Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Swimming To Cambodia

I think the thing I’m going to take with me when I leave This Island Earth will be my perfect moment; the memory of a strange out-of-the-blue time where for just a flash I felt comfortable and at peace with my place in the universe. Nothing was worrisome and everything was calm and right. The perfect moment is elusive. Most people only get one in their life. You’re lucky if you see five in eight decades. You can’t buy them and you can’t drink or drug your way into one. They’re not merely moments of happiness, it’s more profound then that. It’s the feeling of sublime perfection; a feeling of life is as it should be.

I’ve come close to it a few times lately but the last one I really remember was when I lived in Charlestown. I was living on a sailboat slipped at Pier Six in the Navy Yard. I was coming home on the Harbor Shuttle. It must have been thirteen years ago on an unusually warm night in December. Rain controlled most of the day and was still misting in that strange New England way of raining without actually getting you wet. The cabin was full of commuters in suits and power skirts trying to avoid a visit to the dry cleaner for one more box on the calender. The deck chairs were surprisingly dry so I sat out alone, slumped back, watching the city lights wash by. Every thing had that beer-commercial-at-night look, the look of unlimited possibilities. I was overwhelmed with a feeling of tranquility.

I mention all this because I’ve been thinking a lot about life lately. It’s not so much that this instance was a turning point or some great moment of definition. I just can’t escape the feeling that everything in my life had lead up to that moment and everything since has lead me away. Of course that’s pretty much the very nature of time. You could pick any point on a line; call it zero and project a ray into the past, another toward the future. This works out nicely if you think of time as a line. I’ve always wondered how much more marvelous the universe could be if we measured time with spherical polar co-ordinates.

Don’t think this introspection is a sign of some unhealthy emotional pathology. I’m happy in ways I never was as a single young man. Lisa brings me joy. I don’t make a living ripping people off, and for the most part I try not to spread misery wherever I go. Barney purrs when I pick him up (sometimes). Still I can’t help wonder what it was about that one moment that made it so perfect and why it sticks in my mind so profoundly.


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